Dec 02 2016

TV At 60: ATN7 switches on in Sydney

atn7_opening_0002The opening night of Sydney’s second commercial channel ATN7 was under threat from not happening at all.

On Sunday, 2 December 1956, just hours before ATN was to make its official debut, a massive thunderstorm swept through Sydney. The weather brought power down across a number of suburbs — including Epping, where the new ATN “Television Centre” was based.

Not only was there no power for hours but rain managed to leak through the roof. Performers and musicians doing their rehearsals in the afternoon had to do so in front of car headlights being beamed into the studio.

The 200 VIPs making their way to the official opening function had arrived at Epping in torrential rain and had to make their way through mud tracks to get to the still incomplete building.

Power was finally to be restored to the studios barely an hour before airtime, which was just as well because the bulky studio cameras needed 45 minutes to warm up before they could be put to work.


The opening night’s broadcast began with a test pattern (pictured) at 7.00pm, then the official program commenced at 7.30pm. First up was a religious greeting before the national anthem leading in to the opening speeches. Among those to welcome the station to air included chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, Robert Osborne, and the state minister for labour, Abram Landa, attending on behalf of New South Wales Premier Joseph Cahill, who was unable to attend.


Postmaster-General Charles Davidson (pictured above right) then cut the ribbon stretched across the doors to Studio B in declaring the station open before yet another speech, this time by former Justice Allan Maxwell, chairman of ATN’s parent company, Amalgamated Television Services.

Then it was over to the night’s entertainment. Given the nature of the weather that afternoon it was perhaps ironic that the title of the channel’s opening gala was A Shower Of Stars.


The 75-minute variety special featured ATN7’s orchestra conducted by Denis Collinson with performances by American performers Joe “Fingers” Carr and Virginia Paris and local stars Bettina Welch, the Berkeleys and artists from the Phillip Street Theatre revue.

After the variety special was ATN7’s first movie presentation, Folly To Be Wise. The station’s first news bulletin, a 15-minute presentation including filmed highlights from the opening formalities earlier in the evening, closed the night’s programming.

By the end of the night, viewers had been greeted by some of ATN’s first on-air presenters, including Eric Baume, Keith Walshe, Del Cartwright and Harry Dearth, and station programming executive Len Mauger.

At its launch ATN promised around 37 hours of programming a week. Weekdays began with Your Home with Cartwright at 4.30pm, followed by 90 minutes of children’s program Captain Fortune from 5.00pm.

Imported series like The Cisco Kid, Superman, Steven Donovan Western Marshall and Wild Bill Hickok were the lead in to Australia’s first current affairs program, At Seven On 7 hosted by radio 2GB‘s Howard Craven.

There were more imported series at 7.30pm — shows like Victory At Sea, Burns And Allen, Susie and The Adventures Of Sir Lancelot — before ATN’s news at 8.00pm with Brian Wright. Eric Baume then presented a nightly 15-minute editorial, This I Believe, before another hour of imported fare.

Keith Walshe hosted Australia’s first ‘tonight’ show, Sydney Tonight, screening five nights a week at 9.30pm, before station closedown at 10.30pm.

Weekend programming started after 6.00pm and was similarly wrapped up by 10.30pm.

Over the next few months ATN would reveal a growing slate of Australian production — mostly adapted from existing radio programs: Bob Dyer‘s Pick A Box and It Pays To Be Funny, Jack Davey‘s Give It A Go, The Pressure Pak Show and The Dulux Show, Terry Dear‘s Leave It To The Girls, John Dease‘s Quiz Kids, and Harry Dearth and George Foster hosting Pantomime Quiz.

The new studios at Epping were considered the largest out of the six TV stations launching in Australia at that time. They were equipped with six Marconi Mark III cameras — worth £10,000 each. ATN’s Studio B measured 15 by 21 metres, and the later completed Studio A promised double the floor space again.

Lighting for one studio alone cost £17,000 and the station’s Outside Broadcast van, which included its own control room, cost £66,000.

The overall technical installation, including the transmission tower on Gore Hill, represented an investment of £500,000 by the station’s owners.

The launch of ATN7 marked the completion of the first stage of the introduction of television in Sydney — with TCN9 and ABN2 already in operation.


Over the next few years ATN would lead the industry with a number of ‘firsts’: the first Australian station to install a videotape machine; the first breakfast program, Today; the first serial drama, Autumn Affair; and was a partner with GTV9 in setting up ‘Operation Kangaroo‘, the first direct television link between Sydney and Melbourne.

The Epping studios would continue to host production for ATN for over 50 years before the site was demolished in 2010.

At the time of its launch in 1956, ATN7 had partnered with Melbourne’s GTV9 for sharing programs and for sales representation. When GTV9 was taken over by Frank Packer and aligned with TCN9 in Sydney a few years later, ATN7 set up a new affiliation with HSV7 in Melbourne — creating the Australian Television Network, now the Seven Network.

Seven in Sydney now has news production based at Martin Place in the CBD and utilises production facilities at the Australian Technology Park in the suburb of Eveleigh.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 1956, 2 December 1956, 3 December 1956, 20 October 1958. Those Fabulous TV Years, 1981. Forty Years Of Television: The Story Of ATN7, 1996. 50 Years Of Television In Australia, 2006.

YouTube: Marc McCreadie




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Nov 28 2016

Seven wins 2016

7_2000sFor the tenth year in a row the Seven Network has claimed the ratings year (5 cities, 6pm-12mn).

For the weeks 7 to 48 — covering the period from 7 February to 26 November, and excluding the two weeks around Easter — Seven scored 30.2%, followed by Nine (26.7%), Ten (18.8%), ABC (17.6%) and SBS (6.8%).

Broken down to individual channels — Seven (20.7%) defeated Nine (18.3%), Ten (13.5%), ABC (12.6%), SBS (4.8%), 7TWO (4.0%), 9GO (3.9%), 7mate (3.7%), ABC2 (3.0%), One (2.8%), 9Gem and Eleven (2.5% each), 7flix and 9Life (2.0% each), ABC News 24 (1.3%), SBS2/Viceland (1.0%), SBS Food Network (0.9%), ABCME (0.6%) and NITV (0.2%).

(These figures are based on preliminary results and may vary slightly when delayed viewing for the last survey week is added but is unlikely to change the finishing order.)

Seven’s shares received a boost with coverage of the Olympic Games but even when those weeks are subtracted the network still came out in front.

samueljohnsonMini-series Molly (Episode 1: 2,216,000, Episode 2: 1,816,000) kicked off the ratings year for Seven. The network once again had major success with My Kitchen Rules (Winner Announced: 2,096,000 viewers). House Rules ended on a high (Winner Announced: 1,324,000) but The X Factor disappointed.

Dramas Wanted (1,243,000) and The Secret Daughter (1,030,000) delivered strong numbers, followed by 800 Words (984,000).

Seven’s sporting coverage delivered high numbers — with the AFL Grand Final (Presentation: 3,201,000, Match: 3,081,000) and The Melbourne Cup (The Race: 2,066,000) leading. The Australian Open, although technically outside the defined ratings period for the year, scored 1,634,000 for the Men’s Final.

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games (1,619,000) not surprisingly topped the Olympics numbers.

9_logo_2009_0002Nine’s year was topped by the first match in the NRL State Of Origin: NSW versus Queensland (2,735,000) and NRL Grand Final (2,670,000). The Grand Final of The Block (1,865,000) dipped below last year’s final, as did the final of The Voice (Winner Announced: 1,335,000).

Nine has claimed A Current Affair (832,000) to win the 7.00pm timeslot, followed by Home And Away (813,000), ABC News (771,000) and The Project (7PM: 596,000). Nine’s 60 Minutes, despite a challenging year, managed to average the year at 835,000, compared to Seven’s Sunday Night (771,000) — although both shows are down on 2015. Nine may have also creatively coded some late-timeslot 60 Minutes episodes separately, thereby not dragging down the yearly average for the standard early evening episodes.

Dramas Love Child (925,000) and Doctor Doctor (958,000) were solid performers.

For Network Ten, it was a year again led by MasterChef Australia (Winner Announced: 1,999,000) with The Bachelor Australia (The Final Decision: 1,399,000) and Australian Survivor (Winner Announced: 1,203,000) also highlights for the year.

The second series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here started on a high (1,373,000) but didn’t fare quite so well for the finale (Winner Announced: 1,122,000).

Bathurst 1000 (Podium: 1,387,000) topped Ten’s sporting slate, followed by Big Bash League (Final — Session 2: 1,309,000)

The long-awaited return of Offspring (921,000) and first-run mini-series Brock (Part 1: 1,002,000) didn’t perform perhaps as well as expected but gave solid results.

goggleboxAlthough they didn’t match the high numbers of some of their Seven and Nine counterparts, Ten recorded decent results for shows like Have You Been Paying Attention? (829,000), Gogglebox (750,000), Shark Tank (626,000, the ARIA Awards (581,000) and The Living Room (557,000).

Neighbours scored a yearly average of 216,000 on Eleven, with its special one-hour episode back in April rating 302,000 viewers.

ABC’s year was topped by British series Doc Martin (1,157,000) and Australian drama The Doctor Blake Mysteries (1,146,000) — the latter scoring particularly well given its Friday night timeslot. The 2015 New Year’s Eve Fireworks, technically outside the 2016 ratings year, scored 1,427,000 viewers.

As of yesterday (Sunday) networks go into summer non-ratings mode, though viewing data is still collected by OzTAM and reported to networks over the non-ratings period.

The 2017 ratings year begins on 12 February and continues through to 2 December, with a two-week break over the Easter period.

Seven wins 2015201420132012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2016. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM.


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Nov 26 2016

Remembering Channel 5A

rts5a_0001Australians of a certain age will recall old TV dials having a channel number ‘5A’ — between Channels 5 and 6.

The extra channel, likewise channels 0 and 11, were added to Australian TV dials from 1961 as it was apparent that the previous 10-channel spectrum was not going to be enough to sustain a growing television industry.

Usage of the channel 5A frequency was restricted to country areas — mostly used by ABC, such as in Newcastle and Wollongong, but also for some low-powered translator stations for commercial broadcasters.

There was one commercial station that was allocated 5A for its main signal — Riverland Television Pty Ltd in South Australia — hence the call-sign RTS5A.

The company was informed by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board (ABCB) in August 1975 that it had been granted a licence to operate a commercial television service in the Riverland district, including towns Renmark, Loxton, Berri, Bermera and Waikerie. The station’s coverage was estimated to reach around 29,000 people — making it one of the smallest TV markets in Australia.

The region was already covered by national broadcaster ABC, which had launched ABRS3 in the area in 1971, and enthusiastic viewers may have attempted long distance reception from Adelaide or from STV8 in north west Victoria. Ironically, STV8’s parent company Sunraysia Television Ltd was an unsuccessful applicant for the Riverland-based service, with the government instead opting to elect the company with 80 per cent ownership from within the Riverland district.

Construction of RTS5A’s studio and transmitter in Loxton was not started until October 1976, with the station planned to launch a month later. Installation of the station’s technical equipment was assisted by much of it being pre-assembled and tested in Melbourne ahead of being sent to Loxton.

Test transmission for RTS5A commenced on 25 November 1976 — just in time for the station’s official opening the next day!

Opening night commenced with a brief introduction to the station by Julie Blyth and John Harvey. At 6.05pm the movie The Great Race was the first program to air, followed by the official opening presentation for the station. The formalities included pre-recorded speeches by South Australian Premier Don Dunstan, ABCB chairman Myles Wright and Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, Eric Robertson, who declared the station open ahead of the address to viewers by RTS chairman Gilmore Taylor.

The night’s second movie was The Guns From Navarone.

rts5a_0002RTS5A commenced with a schedule of around 4 hours a night, not commencing before 6.00pm. Within a few months of its launch RTS had commenced local production of a weekly women’s program and a sporting round-up. It was a couple more years before the channel launched a nightly local news service, which was combined with the 5-minute “classified ads” segment ahead of the relay of the national news from Adelaide. This bulletin was later expanded to 20 and then 30 minutes.

In the mid-1990s, RTS was taken over by neighbouring South Australian regional station SES8. RTS then adopted SES8’s program schedule but continued to produce a local news service and be identified on-air as “5A”.

YouTube: Dan Martin

win_1989By the end of the decade both SES8 and RTS5A were bought out by WIN Corporation, owner of WIN Television in New South Wales/ACT, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania. It was not long before RTS/SES adopted the WIN branding but continued to offer a mix of programming from all of the Seven, Nine and Ten networks.

To this day, WIN continues as the sole commercial TV broadcaster in the Riverland district. In 2003 the station launched a secondary service, WIN Ten, relaying Network Ten programming from Adelaide.

The advent of digital television has since seen RTS shift from Channel 5A to the UHF band. The station also established local relay broadcasts from all three commercial networks and most of their associated multi-channels.

WIN_2008_2The downside of one operator providing so many channels to a relatively small population is that the cost of providing local services such as news becomes prohibitive. By 2013 WIN had closed local news services from both SES and RTS.

The only local television news service available in the region is a nightly two-minute summary presented from WIN headquarters in Wollongong.

Source: Australian TV Archive (Wayback Machine). 13th Annual Report 1960-61, Australian Broadcasting and Control Board. 28th Annual Report 1975-76, Australian Broadcasting and Control Board. Annual Report 1976-77, Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. B&T Weekly, 2 December 1976.



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Nov 24 2016

Obituary: Peter Sumner

petersumnerActor Peter Sumner, who first rose to prominence in the 1970s espionage drama Spyforce, has died at the age of 74.

Born Peter Sumner-Potts, one of his first professional roles was working at the ABC — doing a range of tasks including writing, producing, directing, voice overs and working on radio shows. “And that gave me so much experience — nearly all the experience on which I’ve laid the basis of my career,” he told TV Times in a 1971 interview.

Towards the end of his time at ABC he was offered a role in the feature film Ned Kelly, which was followed by the leading role of German Gunther Haber in Spyforce. The series, which also starred Jack Thompson, ran for 42 episodes over two seasons and in later years would be a regular in the Nine Network‘s late-night schedule.

Sumner went on to appear in many Australian TV series to follow, with roles in shows including Certain Women, The Evil Touch, Homicide, Matlock Police, Boney, Division 4, Luke’s Kingdom, The Lost Islands, Glenview High, Catspaw and Skyways. He starred in ABC comedies Tickled Pink, with Cornelia Frances, and Trial By Marriage with Jacki Weaver.

In early episodes of Cop Shop he played Detective Tom Foster and returned to the show six years later, appearing opposite his then wife, Lynda Stoner.

During the 1980s he played Bill Hayden in The Dismissal and starred in All The Way, The Flying Doctors and Neighbours.

Other TV appearances included Heartbreak High, Cluedo, GP, A Country Practice, Blue Heelers, All Saints, Water Rats, Spellbinder and Home And Away.

His last credited TV role was in ABC’s Rake.

Feature film appearances included The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Bush Christmas and an un-credited role in the original Star Wars in 1977.

In recent times Sumner continued to do voice over work, including for Sydney radio station WSFM‘s Jonesy & Amanda breakfast show.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, IMDB, Radioinfo, TV Eye — Classic Australian Television. TV Times, 30 October 1971.




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Nov 19 2016

TV At 60: ABC begins in Melbourne

abv2_testcardThe opening night of ABC‘s Melbourne station ABV2 went ahead without anywhere near the problems encountered by its Sydney sister two weeks earlier.

The station was officially opened by Minister for Labour and National Service Harold Holt shortly after 7.00pm on Monday, 19 November 1956.

Other speakers during the half-hour ceremony included Leader of the Opposition H V Evatt, Postmaster-General Charles Davidson, Director of Posts and Telegraphs Sir Giles Chippendall, ABC General Manager Charles Moses and the vice-chairman of the ABC, Edgar Dawes.

abv2opensThe program was compered by ABC announcer John Royle and also included sports broadcaster Ray MacDonald interviewing Olympic athletes Chris Chataway and Shirley Strickland.

A filmed performance by visiting French violinist Christian Ferras — the same film that went to air sans audio on ABN2’s opening two weeks earlier — was played to Melbourne viewers without incident.

The first program was American variety series The Frankie Laine Show. This was followed by British police series Fabian Of Scotland Yard.

The film This Is The ABC, same as the one shown on ABN2’s opening night, took Melbourne viewers through the various operations of the national broadcaster, largely focusing on radio.

YouTube: NFSA Films

Variety show Seeing Stars featured Australian performer Peggy Brooks, recently returned from overseas, and Kenric Hudson‘s comedy sketch, ‘Types of Televiewers’.

The final program for the night was the first episode of the BBC documentary series War In The Air.


With construction of ABV2’s Ripponlea premises still in progress in 1956, the station had to make use of temporary accommodation across various sites in Melbourne, including a makeshift studio at Broadcast House, the ABC’s radio studios in the CBD.

Just three days after its official opening, ABV2 was off to the Melbourne Olympic Games, providing as much as eight hours a day of live coverage via a single outside broadcast van over the course of competition. Filmed coverage was then flown up to Sydney for broadcast on ABN2.

Some programs were able to be made from the still incomplete Ripponlea studios, including drama plays produced early in 1957.

It was May 1958 before ABV formally opened at Ripponlea. The new building included two large studios, both measuring 400 square metres, and on opening night the main studio produced the television debut of the play Captain Carvello, starring Mary Ward, Syd Conabere, Neil Fitzpatrick, Brian Moll and Frank Gatliff.

saturdayshowThe Ripponlea studios continued to house ABC production in Melbourne for decades to follow — making programs such as Bellbird, Adventure Island, Countdown, Power Without Glory, The Saturday Show (pictured), Australia – You’re Standing In It, The Factory, Countdown Revolution, The Big Gig, Frontline, The Late Show, Phoenix, Seachange, Shaun Micallef’s Mad As HellSpicks And Specks, schools programs and thousands of ABC News bulletins.

With the redevelopment and expansion of ABC’s radio and television complex in inner city Southbank, the Ripponlea studios will soon be decommissioned — ending 60 years of production from that site.

Source: The Listener In-TV, 17 November 1956. TV Week, 15 May 1958. The Age, 19 November 1956, 20 November 1956, 22 November 1956, 21 May 1958. The Australian Women’s Weekly, 27 November 1963. Aunty’s Jubilee: Celebrating 50 Years Of ABCTV, ABC Books, 2006. The ABV2 Page



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Nov 15 2016

40 years since The Sullivans

thesullivansEvery now and then a TV network will knock back a proposal, only to see it get picked up and become a success elsewhere. One of those programs was a World War II drama called The Sullivans.

The concept had been offered by Crawford Productions to the Seven Network, which declined to pick it up. With the era of adults-only soaps Number 96 and The Box coming to a close, the Nine Network approached Crawfords in 1976 to devise a new family series. Hence the original idea was dusted off and put forward to the network.

Nine were so enthusiastic about the concept they commissioned a 13-week series without requesting a pilot. What followed was months of meticulous research by producers, seeking to collect as many genuine items from the 1930s to be used as props. “It has been a fascinating job,” said designer Nick Rossendale to TV Week. “I have been through all the country towns just stopping at any likely looking places. It is amazing what a bit of research and looking around will dig up.”

Items such as old 78 records, pub mirrors, advertising posters, household items, kitchen utensils, jewellery, furniture, clothing and even cars were collected to either be used for the series or, as a last resort, to be used for recreations. “When you are dealing with a period of time that is well within living memory, you have to watch things very carefully. Most people have good memories when they recall younger days and one thing out of line will bring a lot of complaints. Therefore my aim in designing the show was to make no mistakes at all,” Rossendale said.

Crawfords had also bought a modest 1930s period home in the suburb of Canterbury that would serve as the exterior for the Sullivans’ Camberwell home. The white weatherboard house has since been demolished but has become immortalised forever by its appearances in the show.

Meanwhile, research was also taking place through old newspapers to gather information on current affairs and even the weather. As the series was planned to tell its story on a day to day basis, using actual dates, it was important to be sure that even the weather conditions from the day would be depicted accurately.

A total of fourteen writers had been employed to bring storylines to the series, again paying close attention to the period being depicted.

nonihazlehurst_0003Casting was completed relatively late in the pre-production process. Filming for the show was due to start in late September 1976, but with only a few weeks to go before production only two cast members had been signed — and they were for supporting roles. Vikki Hammond, a performer on variety shows in the 1960s, was signed on for the part of divorcee Maggie Hayward, and Noni Hazlehurst, formerly of The Ernie Sigley Show and The Box, for the role of Lill Duggan (pictured), a neighbour of the Sullivans.

lorrainebaylypaulcroninPaul Cronin, best known from police drama Matlock Police and its spin-off Solo One and sensing a lull in his acting fortunes, was set for a new career in real estate before he was short-listed for the lead role of Dave Sullivan. Producers ended up choosing Cronin over Terence Donovan, who had appeared in the former Crawford series Division 4. Donovan was also reported to be reluctant to take on the role of a mature father figure.

The part of family matriarch Grace Sullivan was to go to Lorraine Bayly, a stage actress who was familiar to many as a presenter on Play School as well as from the occasional guest role in other Crawford dramas and in TV commercials.

The four Sullivan offspring were played by Andrew McFarlane (Division 4), Stephen Tandy (The Unisexers), Richard Morgan and Susan Hannaford.

Other founding supporting cast included Vivean Gray, Norman Yemm, Maggie Dence, Michael Caton, Peter Hehir, Leon Lissek, Reg Gorman, Fred Parslow, John Bowman and Ingrid Mason.

Episode one made its debut on TCN9, Sydney, and GTV9, Melbourne, on Monday, 15 November 1976. It was one week after Nine had launched The Young Doctors, with both shows running back-to-back over the summer non-ratings period of 1976-77.

The first episode started at 1 September 1939 — two days before the declaration of what would become World War II. The outbreak of war was to forever change the Sullivan family and the series followed their daily lives not just in Melbourne but also in remote overseas battlegrounds as various family members were serving for their country. Producers and designers were once again meticulous in reconstructing some of these diverse locations from sites around Melbourne.

Nine’s confidence in commissioning the series, affording it a generous budget and allowing for considerable research was well rewarded. The series was a ratings hit, topping the national ratings in 1979, and within months of its debut had clocked up its first Logie win. The show’s biggest Logies haul was in 1978 when it collected five awards.

The series was sold to over 30 countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico and Greece and inspired a spin-off telemovie, The John Sullivan Story.

The Sullivans‘ success also made it an easy target for parody back home. Hey Hey It’s Saturday featured a series of sketches called The Sillivans (“a Crawfish Production”), and Paul Hogan and Marion Edward sent up Dave and Grace Sullivan in The Paul Hogan Show.

thesullivans_0009Over the series’ run it also featured early appearances by Mel Gibson, Sam Neill, Gary Sweet, Damon Herriman and a ten-year-old Kylie Minogue. Other actors to feature during the show’s run included Megan Williams, John Walton, Genevieve Picot, Ilona Rodgers, Lisa Crittenden, Jamie Higgins (pictured with Cronin and Bayly), Chantal Contouri, Maggie Millar, John Waters and Andy Anderson.

Bayly left the series in 1979. Her dramatic exit, with Grace killed by a bomb in London, was one of the show’s most famous storylines. It was also an emotional farewell when Aunty Rose (Maggie Dence) tragically drowned following a New Year’s Eve picnic.

World War II ended in 1945 which was shown in the series in 1981. The series continued with optimism that it would capture the booming post-war period and the impact on projects like the Snowy Mountain Scheme, but when Cronin decided to leave the series in 1982 the show was cancelled.

thesullivans_0008The series came to a close with episode 1114. set in the year 1948. Melbourne’s GTV9 aired the final two-hour episode on Thursday, 10 March 1983. Just as Nine had placed a full-page ad in the day’s newspapers (pictured), rival channel ATV10 was rather opportunistic in doing the same to promote its recently-launched 1920s drama Carson’s Law, another Crawford production starring Bayly in her TV return.

In 2012 The Sullivans was first released on DVD, starting as a volume of the first 26 episodes. The final volume of episodes has only recently been released.

Source: TV Week, 17 July 1976, 11 September 1976, 20 November 1976, 15 July 1978, 9 December 1978. TV Times, 23 October 1976, 6 November 1976. Scene, 20 May 1978. The Sun, 10 March 1983. Super Aussie Soaps.





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Nov 13 2016

SBS Viceland: The first week

sbsvicelandThis Tuesday at 4.00pm, SBS launches its new channel, SBS Viceland.

The new channel, operating in a content licencing agreement with US-Canadian content provider VICE, replaces SBS2 but will maintain some SBS2 programming such as the daytime foreign-language news bulletins, A-League football and regular series The Feed, South Park, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and If You Are The One.

Here is the evening line-up of SBS Viceland for its first seven days:

Tuesday 15:
3:30 pm
Countdown to SBS VICELAND – Join SBS 2 as we put the finishing touches on our new channel and reboot as SBS VICELAND.

4:00 pm VICELAND PRESENTS: CUT OFF – Kicking off the launch of SBS VICELAND, Cut-Off is a powerful documentary that follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s exclusive visit to an isolated reserve, hosted by Aboriginal Canadian Sarah Carson-Fox. It’s about Indigenous youth facing each day with resilience, coping amid states of emergency over suicide epidemics, a lack of access to clean water and infrastructure breakdown. (From the US) (Documentary) (Class. tba) **Special Launch Premiere**

5:00 pm DEAD SET ON LIFE – The Life Of Matty – Dead Set on Life is a culinary travel show from the mind of Matty Matheson: a boisterously warm Canadian chef. From subs at gas stations to the most sought-after ingredients on the planet, Matty eats it all, with friends new and old. In this episode, Matty meets up with his old mentor Master Rang, dives deep into Winnipeg’s Filipino community, bags a moose, and visits one of Canada’s largest Aboriginal Pow Wows. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) (Class. tba)

5:30 pm CYBERWAR – Stuxnet The Digital Weapon – Tapping into the geopolitics of hacking and surveillance, Ben Makuch travels the world to meet with hackers, government officials, and dissidents to investigate the ecosystem of cyberwarfare. From the Sony hack to the Syrian Electronic Army, it’s happening all around us. Cyberwar hosted by Ben Makuch will investigate the most significant computer security issues of our time. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) G

6:05 pm States Of Undress – Congo – Former model Hailey Gates explores global fashion and issues the industry often ignores, showing us what the world wears and why. Despite western views of the Congo, the capital city Kinshasa is a runway for its citizens. But among myriad social issues, is fashion a means for progress, or just a distraction? (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) PG

7:00 pm VICE NEWS TONIGHT – VICE News Tonight brings an indispensable source of international news. Fast-tracked from the US, the newscast will break major stories with its unique brand of intrepid, investigative journalism and hard-hitting storytelling. (From the US)

7:30 pm The Feed – Marc Fennell, Patrick Abboud and Jeanette Francis discuss the latest in news, technology and culture, adding a fresh perspective on the latest local and international headlines. (An SBS Production)

8:00 pm Full Frontal With Samantha Bee – Comedian, writer, actress and political commentator Samantha Bee brings her sassy, smart and satirical point of view to a range of current and relevant issues in her very own late night comedy show. With her signature wit, Samantha tackles the taboo topics in a way that no one else can. (From the US) (Entertainment) M



8:30 pm GAYCATION – Japan – Actress Ellen Page (Juno, Inception) and her best friend, Ian Daniel, set off on a journey to explore LGBTQI cultures around the world. From Japan to Brazil, they discover the multiplicity of LGBTQI experiences through amazing people and their stories of struggle and triumph in this Emmy-nominated program. Ellen and Ian are in Japan, on a journey which includes getting friend-married at a Buddhist temple, working at a rent-a-friend agency and partying in the world’s smallest gay bar. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) M(S) **New Series Premiere**

9:20 pm F*CK THAT’S DELICIOUS – Multiculturalism At Its Best – This series follows rap’s greatest bon vivant, Action Bronson, as he travels the world meeting like-minded pleasureseekers and eating his fair share of everything. Action stops in DC, Atlanta, and Miami, eats in the hottest restaurant in the country, samples true southern BBQ, and learns how to make a new bay scallop and papaya dish. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) MA(D)

9:45 pm BLACK MARKET – New Jersey Drive – Actor Michael K Williams (The Wire, The Night Of) meets society’s outcasts in an unflinching look into the lives of the people who work in underworld economies. Drawing on his own past living on the fringes, Williams gains unprecedented access into these worlds, treading a dangerous line to bring us a glimpse of lifestyles that many of us rarely see. In Newark New Jersey, unemployment and lack of hope turns a tradition of joyriding stolen cars into an international criminal operation. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) MA(L)

10:15 pm NOISEY – Bompton With Kendrick Lamar – A first-hand look into the cultures and artists behind some of the world’s most compelling music, with each episode focusing on a different global scene. Zach Goldbaum heads to Compton (aka Bompton) to meet Kendrick Lamar and the friends he grew up with, many of whom are Piru gang members. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) M(D)

11:10 pm BALLS DEEP – Ramadan – There are over seven billion lives happening on earth right now, and most are pretty interesting. To find out what humanity’s deal is, Thomas Morton hangs out with different groups of people and gives their lives a try. In this episode, Thomas joins a Muslim family in Michigan to fast for the holy month of Ramadan. (S.1 Ep.2) (From the US) (Documentary Series) PG

11:40 pm KING OF THE ROAD – Highway To Hell: 10 Years On The Road – Thrasher Magazine’s legendary competition-come-road trip sees the world’s best skateboarding teams duke it out on the gnarliest stairs, ramps and slabs of skateable concrete. Three teams of pro skateboarders: Chocolate, Toy Machine, and Birdhouse compete in Thrasher’s infamous scavenger hunt, road tripping from Seattle to San Diego. (S.1 Ep.1) (From the US) (Documentary Series) (Class. tba)

Wednesday 16:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm The Feed
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Brooklyn Nine-Nine
8:30 pm Weediquette
9:20 pm Weediquette
10:15 pm Movie: Boy (From New Zealand)
11:50 pm VICE News Tonight



Thursday 17:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm The Feed
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm Dead Set On Life
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:35 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Adam Ruins Everything
8:30 pm Black Market
8:55 pm Black Market
9:25 pm Cyberwar
9:55 pm Cyberwar
10:20 pm Movie: Knights Of Badassdom (From the US)

Friday 18*
4:00 pm Daria
4:30 pm VICE News Tonight
5:00 pm The Feed
5:30 pm If You Are The One
6:30 pm Cyberwar
7:00 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm Hyundai A-League Western Sydney Wanderers V Melbourne City
10:15 pm VICE World Of Sports
10:45 pm Movie: Kung Fu Hustle (From China, in Cantonese and Mandarin)

(* NSW/ACT/VIC/TAS only. Other states vary to allow for live A-League coverage)

Saturday 19:
3:10 pm VICELAND Presents: Cut-Off (Rpt)
4:00 pm States Of Undress
4:55 pm Cyberwar
5:25 pm Cyberwar
5:55 pm If You Are The One
7:10 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:40 pm King Of The Road
8:30 pm Movie: Her (From the US) **Spike Jonze Double Movie Special**
10:50 pm Movie: Adaptation (From the US) **Spike Jonze Double Movie Special**

Sunday 20:
3:05 pm Balls Deep
3:35 pm VICE News Tonight
4:00 pm VICE News Tonight
4:30 pm VICE News Tonight
5:00 pm Dead Set on Life
5:25 pm VICE World of Sports
5:55 pm If You Are The One
7:05 pm VICELAND Presents: Cut-Off (Rpt)
8:00 pm South Park
8:30 pm States Of Undress
9:20 pm States Of Undress
10:10 pm Black Market
10:40 pm Black Market
11:05 pm Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
11:30 pm South Park

Monday 21:
4:00 pm Man Vs Fly
4:05 pm Daria
4:35 pm VICE News Tonight
5:05 pm Cyberwar
5:35 pm If You Are The One
6:35 pm VICE World Of Sports
7:05 pm VICE News Tonight
7:30 pm The Feed
8:00 pm Travel Man
8:30 pm F*ck That’s Delicious
9:00 pm F*ck That’s Delicious
9:25 pm Dead Set on Life
9:55 pm Dead Set On Life
10:20 pm Movie: Safety Not Guaranteed (From the US)
11:55 pm VICE News Tonight

SBS Viceland will broadcast on Channel 32 on free-to-air and Channel 142 on Foxtel,.



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Nov 13 2016

Obituary: Bob Francis

bobfrancisFormer Adelaide radio and television broadcaster Bob Francis has died at the age of 77.

Born in Egypt, Francis came to Adelaide in 1947 and ten years later started in radio at 5DN.

While working at station 5AD, Francis was credited with leading the campaign to have The Beatles add Adelaide to their Australian tour in 1964.

Although he had a successful radio career spanning 57 years in Adelaide, including several years as the top-rating night-time “shock jock” on 5AA, Francis also had a career in television.

In the 1970s he guest hosted the local variety show Tonight With Barry Ion and for around 18 months hosted the Saturday night program Penthouse Club.

bobfrancisannewillsBased on the Melbourne show of the same name, Penthouse Club was live variety interspersed with coverage of Saturday night harness racing and the weekly lotto draw. The show was co-hosted by Anne Wills and Sandy Roberts.

Penthouse Club was popular with Adelaide viewers, with Francis, Wills and the show itself all collecting TV Week Logie Awards for South Australia in 1975.

Ironically, just after the Logies triumph, the show was suddenly cancelled.

Francis also appeared in local productions such as the SAS10 Christmas Appeal, and in 2005 featured in Made In Adelaide — a special documenting that station’s 40th anniversary.

He retired from broadcasting in 2013.

Bob Francis is survived by his wife Anna and two children.

Source: ABC. TV Radio Guide, 16 February 1974, 6 July 1974. TV Week, 22 March 1975.




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Nov 08 2016

Nine and SCA in regional news expansion

9_logo_2009_0002The Nine Network and Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) have confirmed plans to expand regional news coverage across Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT and Victoria.

The introduction of 15 regional news bulletins was agreed between Nine and SCA as part of their new programming affiliation agreement, effective from July this year, with Nine covering the necessary employee and capital expenditure costs.

Nine is employing more than 110 staff, to be based in Sydney, regional NSW, Brisbane, regional Queensland, Melbourne and regional Victoria to produce and put the bulletins to air.

The one-hour bulletins will be broadcast across the Southern Cross Nine outlets — the first to launch in Canberra in February, followed by Wollongong and then other regions at dates to be announced.


Former ABC News Breakfast presenter Vanessa O’Hanlon (pictured above right) will present the bulletin in Southern NSW and Canberra. Nine News Jo Hall (left) will front the bulletins to be broadcast in regional Victoria.

Samantha Heathwood, a former newsreader for WIN News in Queensland, will front the regional Queensland bulletins.

In a statement issued today, Grant Blackley, Chief Executive Officer of SCA, said: “We are committed to our local communities and this local news project is an investment in these local economies and local jobs. Nearly 80 dedicated news staff including journalists, camera operators and editors will be employed and located in 18 regional centres to bring the news to our regional viewers, with another 30 working on the bulletins in Nine’s metropolitan newsrooms.

“If there is breaking news in Cairns, in Orange or in Albury, National Nine News will be on the ground to cover it and our viewers in those communities will be able to rely on Nine News to bring them the best television coverage.”

Mike Dalton, Head of Nine News Regional, said: “This is a big win for regional Australia. The Nine News brand is synonymous with bringing viewers an unrivalled news service, with a proud history going back 60 years.

“For the first time, our brand will be extended into country areas, offering regional viewers the very best in news gathering and reporting. We can’t wait to start telling the stories that matter the most to people in the new regions into which we’ll be broadcasting.”

The expansion of regional news coverage by SCA and Nine presents a major rival to WIN, which provides local half-hour bulletins across most of its Network Ten outlets in Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT, Victoria and Tasmania. WIN News has recently shifted its local bulletins to 6pm, fitting between Ten Eyewitness News and The Project.

The new bulletins will also be in competition with Prime7 News, which covers selected regions in New South Wales and Victoria, and Seven Local News in regional Queensland.

Source: Nine Network


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Nov 08 2016

The Young Doctors turns 40

tvweek_131176The Young Doctors was destined to be one of Australia’s shortest lived serial dramas but in an ironic twist became the longest-running of its time..

Created by the Reg Watson for the Reg Grundy Organisation, The Young Doctors began as the story of five medical interns who had started at the fictional Alfred Memorial Hospital. Playing the five young doctors were John Dommett, John Walton, Tim Page, Peta Toppano and pop star turned actor Mark Holden (pictured). The hospital’s nursing staff were played by former model and weather girl Delvene Delaney (The Paul Hogan Show), Margaret Nelson, Joanne Samuel (Class Of ’74) and Cornelia Frances as the officious Sister Grace Scott.

Filling out the rest of the cast were Gwen Plumb as kiosk proprietor Ada Simmonds, Ugly Dave Gray, Lyn James, Vivienne Benson-Young, Chris King, Michael Beecher and Alfred Sandor.

The role of bar owner Bunny Howard marked English-born comedian Gray’s first serious acting role, starting on The Young Doctors fresh from the axed game show Celebrity Squares and having previously hosted variety shows In Melbourne Tonight and Ugly Dave Gray Tonight.

uglydavegrayiainfinlayAnother unusual signing for the series was that of journalist and former This Day Tonight host Iain Finlay (pictured, far right with Gray), making his acting debut, playing the part of resident ‘nasty’ Frank Curtis in the show’s initial 13-week run.

Grundy’s had been producing episodes of The Young Doctors for two months before the show made its debut as a one-hour episode on the Nine Network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on Monday, 8 November 1976. (Adelaide followed the next night)

“We follow their romances, conflicts and heartbreaks from the tension of the operating theatre to the relaxed atmosphere of the nearby disco and restaurant,” said a Nine Network spokesperson at the time of the show’s launch.

tvtimes_181178Nine had decided to run the Sydney-based The Young Doctors back-to-back with Melbourne-based The Sullivans, which launched the following week, over the summer months presumably to give both titles a run before deciding which would be renewed going into the 1977 season. Nine opted to put the axe to The Young Doctors before it reached the end of its 13-week contract. It was only once the show’s growing following was known that Nine decided to give the series a  last-minute reprieve. Nine’s change of heart turned out to be for the better — as both The Young Doctors and The Sullivans became key successes for the network.

Once the summer run was over, The Young Doctors settled into its regular timeslot leading in to the news with its saucy, lightweight soapie fare. Despite the hospital setting which included a casualty ward and operating theatre, there was not much actual medical drama to be seen, with much of the show’s storylines focused on the interactions between the staff and their domestic and social lives.

Award-winning writer Tony Morphett, whose previous credits included the ABC series Certain Women, was one of three scriptwriters to launch the show. “It’s technically interesting to write for a serial running five nights a week,” he told TV Times in 1976. “I’ve done numerous half-hour drama series, one-hour specials and serials, but this is a different ball game. This is a very commercial, well-laid format. If you look at the shows that have succeeded, they’re doctors and cop shows — simplifying good and evil. And with hospitals the normal turnover of patients is good reason to have characters coming and going… a natural flow… bit like a hotel.”


corneliafrances_0003For Cornelia Frances, the role of Sister Grace Scott (pictured) came after producers had been impressed by her portrayal of a bitchy character in a Grundy pilot called Two-Way Mirror — and the role of Sister Scott was to become one to define her career, although behind Sister Scott’s tough exterior there was some tragedy. Within the show’s first few months it was revealed that Sister Scott had been raped twice, once as a young nurse, and was left at the altar by a fleeing bridegroom. “It seems that every time she takes off her white uniform and gets dressed up, she either gets raped or left at the altar,” Frances told TV Times in 1977. She also defended her character’s gruff attitude. “Sister Scott is no bitch. She’s quite humane but is frightened to show warmth.”

One of the show’s most famous cliff-hangers was when Sister Scott accidentally stepped into an open lift shaft after giving a stern lecture to one of the young nurses. The character survived the accident with little more than a broken leg, but Frances was soon to leave the series after that storyline. She worked for Grundy’s again a few years later in Prisoner and Sons And Daughters and then took on the recurring role of Morag Bellingham in the long-running Seven Network series Home And Away.

tonyalvarez_0001Other cast members to come through Alfred Memorial Hospital over the years included Kim Wran, a weathergirl at TCN9 and daughter of NSW Premier Neville Wran, Karen Pini, Paula Duncan, Lynda Stoner, Tony Alvarez (pictured), Alan Dale, Bartholomew John, Eric Oldfield, John Hamblin, Noel Trevarthen, Judy McBurney, Diana McLean, Ros Wood, Judy Lynne, Joe Hasham, Abigail, Bunney Brooke, Mike Dorsey and Ron Shand.

theyoungdoctors_0002It was big news in June 1982 when The Young Doctors reached episode 1219 — breaking the record set by former hit series Number 96 for Australia’s longest running serial drama. But despite the record breaking milestone, The Young Doctors‘ days were soon numbered as long-serving cast members had made way for newer, fresher faces. Production wound up later in the year and the 1396th and final episode aired in March 1983 — coincidentally just weeks after The Sullivans had also wound up from its successful run.

It was left to Ada Simmonds to play The Young Doctors‘ final scene by shutting off the lights as she exited the now-closed Alfred Memorial for the last time.

tvweek_240181The Young Doctors continued in re-runs on Nine during the 1980s and found international success, particularly in the United Kingdom where it aired across the ITV network.

Nine’s replacement for The Young Doctors was also to have a medical theme. Starting Out, also from Grundy’s, focused on the lives of medical students at a Melbourne university. The series debuted a week after The Young Doctors finished but was short lived.

Plans to revive The Young Doctors for a 21st century audience were revealed from both the Nine and Ten networks in the late 2000s, but neither came to fruition.

Source: Aussie Soap Archive, Wikipedia, Super Aussie Soaps. TV Times, 6 November 1976, 5 February 1977, 18 November 1978.  TV Week, 13 November 1976, 24 January 1981. Scene, 16 September 1978.




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